Sunday, August 9, 2009

The ‘Inconvenient Necessity of Producing Evidence’:
The Deportation Case Against Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet

By Lori Tompkins
4 August 2009

The Times of India announced on 30 July 2009 that the Indian Government will release a special postal stamp on 4 April of next year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Sri Aurobindo’s arrival in Pondicherry, where he narrowly avoided arrest and deportation by British authorities who considered him a dangerous spoiler of their colonial rule. Coincidentally, the 31st of July 2009 happened to be the 100th anniversary of Sri Aurobindo’s ‘Open Letter to My Countrymen’ which he wrote in response to his year-long imprisonment (May 1908 – May 1909) and the persistent threat of deportation from Indian soil. The letter began:

‘The position of a public man who does his duty in India today is too precarious to permit of his being sure of the morrow. I have recently come out of a year’s seclusion from work for my country on a charge which there was not a scrap of reliable evidence to support, but my acquittal is no security either against the trumping up of a fresh accusation or the arbitrary law of deportation which dispenses with the inconvenient formality of a charge and the still more inconvenient necessity of producing evidence.’

Surely some find it interesting that in the same month the government announced their plans to celebrate Sri Aurobindo’s arrival in the safe haven of Pondicherry, they sent police to the door of Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet, telling her she had four and a half days (two business days) to leave the country or she would be arrested. Ms. Norelli-Bachelet, a resident of India since 1971, is recognized by many in India and throughout the world as an essential continuation of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga, and especially as an extension of his will towards uplifting the Sanatana Dharma and the true Vedic idea that has been lost on Indians and the rest of the world alike for aeons. During her nine years of residence at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry (1971-1980) she published seven books: The Magical Carousel – A Zodiacal Odyssey, September Letters, Symbols and the Question of Unity, The Gnostic Circle – a Synthesis in the Harmonies of the Cosmos, The Hidden Manna, and The New Way – a Study in the Rise and Establishment of a Gnostic Society. The knowledge found in these books is its own proof that Ms. Norelli-Bachelet’s yoga and consciousness is a seamless continuation of the ‘Supramental Descent’ as initiated by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The methodology is clearly and meticulously revealed by which India and the peoples of the world can outgrow their cosmic ignorance, self-ignorance and discordant consciousness, and gain a higher, more integral vision of self and world affairs.

In 1980 Ms. Norelli-Bachelet moved to the Palani Hills of Tamil Nadu where she continued writing books and established the Aeon Centre of Cosmology as well as a dairy farm and the Carossel cheese factory. Her centre, dairy and modest cheese factory has employed and improved the lives of many nearby Indians, and students come from all over India and the world to study with her, assist her and be in her substantial presence.

So why is it that this commendable woman who has only enhanced India and been a true heroine in the Movement for the Restoration of Vedic Wisdom has been so abruptly asked to leave the county? [1] In the news we find few answers. A brief article appeared in the Times of India on 18 July 2009 titled ‘Chile president’s aunt asked to leave India’. Many readers were probably scratching their heads on that day wondering why the India-loving aunt of Michele Bachelet was being forced to leave after 38 years of uninterrupted residence. Whose boat did she rock too much? Is her opinion of Sri Aurobindo too high? Where is the pressure for expulsion coming from? Who wants to discredit her by sending her packing? Who has she ticked off to this extent?

A few days later on 21 July the Chennai Times of India published an article by Radha Venkatesan titled ‘Chilean Prez kin asked to leave India: Patrizia, Director of Yoga Center in Kodaikanal, Found To Be OverStaying’. This article adds a few interesting details to the story. Venkatesan reported that Ms. Norelli-Bachelet was directed to leave India for “overstaying” her visa which expired on 31 December 2008. She wrote, ‘District officials refused to elaborate on why the police objected to her visa renewal. However, the police said the local people living near Patrizia’s cosmological centre had opposed her stay. In 1992, a case related to a land dispute was filed against her, but she was acquitted, police said.’

If the reporter had done a bit more research she may have found out that not only did some of Ms. Norelli-Bachelet’s neighbors ‘oppose’ her stay, a group of 30 villagers had actually attacked her and two of her associates with baseball bats in 1992.

Questioned about the ‘land dispute’ mentioned in the Chennai Times article Ms. Norelli-Bachelet responded, ‘This is totally false. It was a murderous assault. [The policeman’s] intention is to show how I was creating trouble locally. He would not like to cast light on the real happening because two policemen were indicted and punished for their mischievous behaviour. I petitioned the National Human Rights Commission and a top-notch investigator was sent (1995) on a five-day investigation of my complaint to Kodaikanal. He found FACTUAL details proving everything I stated, such as disappearance of all material evidence, photos of the injured, and so on. The police had made it disappear. We were attacked by a gang; 30 armed with baseball-like carved bats against three of us. Several years went by and when no further action was taken by the NHRC, enquiries were made. They then gave the findings as pertaining to a ‘land dispute’ only. Most probably the original report filed by the investigator also vanished. But I do have a copy. There was no land dispute at all.’

Robert E. Wilkinson, vice president of Aeon Group, gives the following account: ‘The story goes that the locals had been provoked to attack Skambha [Aeon Centre] on the contrived story of her diverting the flow of water from the river and depriving the people downstream of the water for their crops. This was a complete lie which I documented on film when I was there.’ Mr. Wilkinson also remembers that one of Ms. Norelli-Bachelet’s associates was tied up and nearly thrown off Skambha’s waterfall in the 1992 attack.

After this episode failed to kill, scare off or tarnish Ms. Norelli-Bachelet, an international human rights campaign was launched against her by the same group. Letters accusing her of human rights abuses were sent ‘by the hundreds’ to the Indian Home Ministry mainly from certain European countries where Pax Christi, the organization which supported the campaign, is based. ‘At that time the agents of this organisation operated only with local support from the police and petty officials,’ says Ms. Norelli-Bachelet. ‘They had no support either in Chennai or even less in Delhi. Now it is different. These agents are everywhere, so they can secure an exit order from the Union Home Ministry itself, making sure that giving me only four days time I had no chance to get a stay. A manoeuvre of this sort had to be from someone high up.’

One might reasonably ask, ‘Why in the world would Pax Christi (or anyone) be so intent on getting rid of this woman?’ One would have to be familiar with the cohesive yoga and mission of Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Ms. Norelli-Bachelet to understand the comprehensive threat that the only living member of this trinity poses.

With this in mind, some readers might appreciate the following synchronicity. On the same day Ms. Norelli-Bachelet was given her abrupt notice to leave India, the first chapter of her latest book, Secrets of the Earth – Questions and Answers on the Line of Ten Avatars of Vedic Tradition, was published in Bhavan’s Journal. This book discusses Sri Aurobindo as the 9th and 10th in the Line of Ten Avatars, as well as the fallacy and inconsistencies of the Nirayana zodiac system which many Indians rely on to organize and understand their lives. Ms. Norelli-Bachelet writes that knowledge of the true avatar of our age and knowledge of the true Vedic sacrifice – i.e. the Earth’s twelve month year as discussed in Sri Aurobindo’s The Secret of the Veda –, are both essential for cultivating the consciousness that will establish ‘a new heaven and a new Earth’.

A woman furthering Sri Aurobindo’s ideas of ‘The Life Divine’ and teaching of the true significance of Vedic symbolism and cosmology is certainly a pesky obstacle to certain agencies who thirst to ‘harvest souls’ via whatever trick or financial incentive. The very success of their ‘mission’ (by whatever name they call it) depends on how well and how completely they can separate millions of Indians from the living and livable significance of their Vedic roots. However if the investigation into ‘where is the pressure for expulsion coming from?’ and ‘who wants to discredit Ms. Norelli-Bachelet by sending her packing?’ is limited to evangelists who consider Hindu rituals and the Vedic sacrifice to be akin to devil worship and barbarism, many antagonists of Ms. Norelli-Bachelet’s yoga would skirt under the radar and the story would remain incomplete.

Certainly the Nirayana astrologers, and all who calculate their calendars and temple celebrations by the Nirayana system, would be thrilled if Ms. Norelli-Bachelet, who praises the Tropical or Sayana zodiac and discredits their own floating measure of the year as an anathema to Vedic wisdom, is ousted from her Indian seat. She has pointed out that the four fixed or ‘preservation’ signs of the Tropical zodiac and other cosmological symbols are not only found in the Bible, a fact which most Christians like to ignore; but also in the Rig Veda, specifically in the hymn to Vishnu the Preserver. This observation, which is not subjective at all, is basically ignored and buried by Vedic historians and scholars. In ‘Cosmology in the Rig Veda – the Third Premise’, Ms. Norelli-Bachelet discusses this particular impasse:

‘Indian scholars will contend that these zodiacal figures are equally “imports”, similar to an “imported civilisation”. Therefore, those who seek to support their theories of an indigenous culture will argue that the zodiac as we know it today was brought to India by the Greeks, long after the Rigveda was penned; and that therefore its symbols cannot possibly be found in the Veda.’ [2]

So one is left to wonder, who among those who will be greatly relieved and even happy to see Ms. Norelli-Bachelet banished from her home in Tamil Nadu, is truly pulling the strings? What is the real conspiracy of circumstances that has led to this juncture in which a veritable Indian national treasure, who will eventually be celebrated (despite the color of her skin and her non-Indian place of birth) as being equally instrumental as Sri Aurobindo in helping India rise to the call of its destiny and its greatness, is facing deportation 100 years after Sri Aurobindo’s own trials and tribulations at the hands of the British government? In this current drama it is apparently Ms. Norelli-Bachelet who is ‘highly dangerous’ to the rule and status quo of ignorance that keeps Indians from rising up and organizing themselves by the power of their own Sanatana Dharma.

Now many more than five days have passed since the notice to leave was served on the 15th of July and Ms. Norelli-Bachelet is still in-country (thankfully not in a jail cell). Friends in high places have apparently intervened. Radha Venkatesan reported in the Chennai Times article, ‘The state home department has asked the police to await further orders from the external affairs ministry.’

According to Ms. Norelli-Bachelet the Indian government has a file with her name on it that is chock full of false accusations of illegal, suspicious or otherwise offensive behavior that has been built up by her detractors over the decades. She is now demanding that her file be fully investigated and purified of its bogus contents. In the words of Sri Aurobindo (as per his 31 July 1909 ‘Open Letter’ to his countrymen), she is demanding that the Indian government observe the ‘inconvenient necessity of producing evidence’ to support the charges or judgment against her. Will her countrymen and women support her in this very reasonable demand, or voice no concern as she is thrown to the wolves of vested interest or vested ignorance?

[1] The Movement for the Restoration of Vedic Wisdom, Manifesto: The Zero, the Veda and the Divine Measure of the Year; MRVW Yahoo Group.
[2] ‘Cosmology in the Rig Veda – the Third Premise’ as published in The Hindu, 9 July 2002

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